Everyone seems to have gone a bit FIFA World Cup crazy these days - people who never follow sport and don't know the difference between an assist and an assistant referee are suddenly soccer experts. Cars around here are zipping about with flags of the involved nations flapping in the wind. Every day you can hear cheers and horns honking at some point or another signifying that someone has won a match or scored a goal.
This bit of information was on twitter yesterday...
these are the women in Pakistan who hand-sew and polish the soccer balls which are being kicked and head butted on fields in Brazil right now.
They are paid $ 182 a month for this honour.
Yes, $ 2,184 a year for sewing the soccer balls that earn millions for FIFA.
I must confess from the onset that I know nothing about college football - the sort of industry that exists in the US just doesn't compare to anything here in Canada.
That being said, I was more than a little disgusted, with much of the free world, at the way Penn State students took to the streets to protest the firing of beloved, and long-time football coach Joe Paterno.
Coaches are fired all of the time - generally for running a losing team. This was different. Paterno was fired for not acting aggressively when he was made aware that his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, was sexually assaulting young boys. Paterno knew in 2002 evidence existed that Sandusky had raped a young boy in the team locker room. Yes, Paterno went to the authorities. Surely to god he would have known that such behaviour was criminal and that Sandusky was still not charged or even under investigation! This allowed the pattern of behaviour to continue.
Educators - even football coaches - have an obligation to make sure the kids in their care . . . hell ALL kids, are free from harm. Here in Ontario failing to report abuse directly to the authorities is a criminal offence.
So Paterno was negligent. Last night he was fired.
Good. He should have been.
More than 2000 students took to the streets to protest his perceived 'poor' treatment.
“We got rowdy, and we got maced,” said Jeff Heim, 19, rubbing his red, teary eyes. “But make no mistake, the board started this riot by firing our coach. They tarnished a legend.”
Apparently failing to follow up appropriately with sexual abuse wasn't tarnish enough.
“It’s not fair,” said Mr. Muir, hurling a white ribbon. “The board is an embarrassment to our school and a disservice to the student population.”
It's an embarrassment that it took the board so long to fire Sandusky. The fact that a rapist was allowed to walk the halls of the schools and prey upon vulnerable children was far more of a black mark against the school!
I know that it is early days yet and far more about this story will play out but I can't help think about the victims. Where is their justice? No one seems to be worried about them - instead they riot over their fables football coach being fired.
It's a sad world we live in where a football coach is more important than those boys who had their lives destroyed by a man they trusted assaulting them.
So the Vancouver 2010 Olympics came to a close yesterday. Paul and I joined millions of other Canadians as Canada battled the US in the final medal event of the games - men's hockey. What a freaking game! I don't know when I've seen such excitement. Paul couldn't bear to be in the room, hiding in the hallway, he'd poke his head in every few seconds to see what had happened. I couldn't sit and bounced about like someone in line to use the port-a-potties after consuming 30 beers at a day-long-music festival.
I was reminded of the famous Henderson goal that I sat on a gym floor and watched back in 1972. People still talk about it. I suspect we'll be talking about Crosby's overtime goal for decades too.
One couldn't have asked fo a better finish to these games.
Canada went from being the only host country in history to not win a gold medal (twice, because we do things well in Canada) to being the country to win the most gold medals ever at a Winter Olympics.
Mid-way through the games the national media was wringing its hands in despair over the performance of our athletes - we had been told that we would own the podium and that wasn't happening. Something was wrong. The so-called 'sure-bets' weren't winning golds, hell, some of them weren't even finishing their races. This whining should be a Canadian Olympic sport because it happens EVERY Olympics.
We'd win a gold in that.
That aside, the games seem to have gone off without too many glitches. You wouldn't know this by listening to the Russian media. That pinhead Timothy Bancroft-Hinchley was at it again in Pravda:
Doesn’t it feel great to slam the door behind you as you walk out, stick up the middle finger using the palm of the left hand on the upper right forearm for extra leverage and blow a giant raspberry? That is exactly how it feels as Russia leaves Vancouver after disappointing Games with a question, was the Canadian ice hockey team on drugs?
The middle finger goes to the shockingly dangerous organization of the Games which cost the life of a Georgian luger right at the outset on day 1 (Nodar Kumaritashvili lost his life because the track was unfit, and indeed the corner where he crashed was elevated the following day) and the giant raspberry goes to the appalling, abominable and biased judging of events which cost Russia medal after medal.
The middle finger and the giant raspberry go to the Canadian ice hockey team. Were they on drugs the day they beat Russia so overwhelmingly?
Yes, Bancroft-Hinchley is a complete tool.
So what do the Olympics mean? The media was blathering away about how it changed the way Canadians see themselves.
I think the Olympics provided a respite. The last few years have been brutal for much of the world. Factories shuttered, unemployment swelled, human misery was everywhere.
For 17 days we breathed a sigh of relief, shut the bad away, and marveled at the poise of a young lady who found the strength to skate her way to a bronze medal days after losing her mother. We were inspired at the speed and skill of the world's athletes. We marveled at the way skiers jumped, flipped, and raced at speeds that most of us wouldn't contemplate from the comfort of our cars (with seat belts) yet alone careening down a mountain on a pair of thin skis.
History will decide the long-term impact of the Olympics on us as a nation. In Canada we still have a crap government, run by cynical leaders who lead by polls rather than by good public policy. We are still trying to teeter further out of the mire of the recession. Kids still go to school hungry and would rather have breakfast than play a game.
It was nice to shut the bad out for a few weeks.
I think I'll hold out a bit more and read stories such as this: Weed killer can turn male frogs into females, study finds.
Oh. Message to Timothy Bancroft-Hinchley - don't let the door hit you as you skulk your way back home. I know it isn't very host-like of me to say that but, frankly, you weren't much of a guest.
The journalistic world is a'flutter today over comments written about Canada and the Vancouver Olympics by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey for an editorial in the Russian propaganda rag Pravda. In his editorial, published PRIORto Canada's historic (and bloody satisfying) drubbing of the Russian hockey team, he denigrates Vancouver, Canada, and the olympics.
Here is a sample of some of his opinions:
Vancouver is not fit to hold the Winter Olympics.
We all know Canada has problems with the future lines drawn on Arctic maps and we all know Canada lives in the shadow of its larger neighbour to the south.
The abject cruelty shown by Canadian soldiers in international conflicts is scantily referred to, as indeed is the utter incapacity of this county to host a major international event, due to its inferiority complex, born of a trauma being the skinny and weakling bro to a beefy United States and a colonial outpost to the United Kingdom, whose Queen smiles happily from Canadian postage stamps.
Maybe it is this which makes the Canadians so…retentive, or cowardly. So it is not exactly a huge surprise to have international skating experts from the four corners of the Earth criticizing the decision to award the Men’s figure skating Gold medal to the US athlete Evan Lysacekv over the reigning Olympic Champion Evgeny Plushenko, whose superior performance was inexplicably ignored.
Everybody who knows anything about Olympic skating, Winter Olympic sports and international politics will infer from the pitiful and dangerous conditions provided by the Canadian authorities, which already caused one death, that Vancouver is mutton dressed as lamb. Take off the outer veneer and the stench is horrific.
There you have it. Proof that any idiot can have an opinion and get it published somewhere. Mind you, any of my American friends who have ever watched FOX news or listed to Sarah Palin already understand this grievous modern phenomenon. Actually, Maxime Bernier's latest musings about climate change would also fit into that category.
Let's just examine these complaints as it were.
The website’s main athletic complaint is about a short-notice drug test issued to Russian skier Natalya Korosteleva. It neglects to mention that VANOC organizers have no input into the drug-testing regime of any particular sporting body. Drug tests aren't effective if people have ample notice that they will be tested.
One has to wonder why she refused . . . hmmmmmmm . . . need I suggest more?
It also impugns us for the decision to give the gold medal in men’s figure skating to American Evan Lysacek over Russian Evgeni Plushenko – as if we had some say in that, either.
Now about that cruelty allegation. Dear lord, how anyone in Russia could lob that pile of brown, smelly stuff at Canadians is besides me. Yes, as with all nations involved with a conflict or two over the years there have been an issue or three. None of these could ever compare to the actions taken by the Russian bear over the years.
Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey is clearly a pinhead.
Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey obviously never learned how to write a proper paragraph either.
Never willing to rest, I googled Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey. My lord. The stuff by him that is available on the net is frightening. Anti-semitic, pro-Russian, anti-Israel, pro-terrorist activity, anti-American . . . his work seems to pop up in the most questionable of places. No doubt he is chief speech writer for Hugo Chavez.
Bancroft-Hinchey lists his training as a song-writer. Who knew penning the odd pop tune qualified one to make sweeping political statements? I do love the way journalism works in this era.
On a happy note, this was before we kicked the Russians out of the rink in hockey. I can only imagine the frothing of the mouth taking place while Bancroft-Hinchey sits at his keyboard today. What a shame we couldn't kick HIM in the ass too!
The 2010 Winter Olympics kick off in Vancouver tomorrow. The world will be watching.
It has been said that we Canadians are a rather shy lot; we like to be involved but are happy not being front and centre. Generally that is left to our buddies down to the south.
This inward way of looking causes great doubt. It takes very little before we are convinced that we are not doing as well as we should at something.
Some suggest that self-flagellation (not, it doesn't mean THAT - dirty birds) is a form of national sport.
I've read reports suggesting how poorly we'll do initially in the medal count.
Apparently the pinhead Conservative idiots in Ottawa (the same dolts who have closed up Parliament until AFTER the Olympics are over because hockey is far more important than the business of running the country in a transparent manner) have been openly discussing how many medals will need to be won in order to send Canadians into a fuzzy, happy place that will allow us to forget the Harper Conservative's 4 years of horrid rule and elect them in a majority.
The cynicism leaves one wholly disheartened.
To be honest, we Canucks are generally slow starters at the Olympics. It seems to be the pattern that we do poorly in the first week and then really come out of the gates in week two.
You can understand our fears . . . while we have hosted the Olympics twice in this country NO Canadian has ever won a gold medal on Canadian soil.
This is not a happy record.
In fact. It is a record we all trust will go by the wayside in Vancouver.
Canadians are getting into the spirit. Tomorrow is red and white day to honour our athletes. Lots of people have started talking about the games.
I'm sure that the senior who pooped on the floor in the middle of the Olympic Wear section at Paul's work yesterday was not making a statement about the Olympics. Note to elderly protester - fecal displays of anger are best directed at Stephen Harper.
Errant fecal matter aside, we are getting into the spirit. Yes, we are.
The TV waves are full of Olympic ads. Personally I am skeptical of the Olympic athletes seen in commercials eating McDonalds food. I am sure that they aren't eating a Big Mac before heading down the mountain. That aside, I get that when you live below the poverty line (we don't sponsor our athletes to the same level as other nations do, although we have kicked in some big bucks for OUR Olympics) you'll do just about anything for some sponsorship cash.
At the end of the day, given the hellish few years we have all been through, it would be nice to think of something happy for a change (and I promise to not dwell too long on the money being spent on a sporting even when there are countless people living and dying on the streets or children showing up in our schools not having had breakfast and with no lunch). So, politics aside, let the games begin . . .
This week's Photo Hunt theme is "sports". We have been in Athens this week so there have been many opportunities for a picture that I could use for this week's theme. In the end I went with this picture that I took of the Panathenic Stadium as seen from the top of the Lykavittos Hill . This picture really provides a sense of how large this stadium is.
The stadium was originally a natural hollow part of the ground between the two hills of Agra and Ardettos, over Ilissos river. It was transformed into a stadium by Lykourgos in 330-329 BC for the athletic competitions of the Great Panathinaea Festivities. It is believed that the Stadium had a seating capacity of 50,000 people.
In the Roman times, the stadium was used as an arena.
A modern restoration of the stadium at the end of the 19th century allowed it to be used for the first Olympic Games when they were reborn again in 1896. The stadium was used again as the site of the finish line of the marathon in the 2004 Olympics.
Lots of the slow travel community members also photo hunt when they aren't traveling. You can find their posts by clicking the links below.
We left the snow behind and headed to California for a long weekend of fun. We shoppedm toured wineries, tasted olive oil, met up with good friends, and ate some wonderful food. I can't wait for slow bowl 2009.